In my first teaching position, I was at loggerheads with my head of department because she insisted that pupils be taught to put “(PBUH)” – abbreviation for the traditional Muslim blessing “Peace be Upon Him” – after writing the name of the false prophet Muhammad. She was not a Muslim and the handful of Muslim pupils in the school couldn’t have cared less whether anyone did it. Not surprisingly, I would not speak a blessing upon a false, Incarnation-denying, Trinity-denying prophet, nor could I, in good conscience, and in light James 3:1, encourage my pupils to do so.
Sadly, it is all too common practice in teaching Religious Education to teach the rituals of other religions in a kinaesthetic way. For most students there is no conscience issue. They would be just as happy offering incense to Caesar and saying it is nothing and it is meaningless. They wouldn’t know and honestly probably wouldn’t care that many Christians have died for just as much. That former head of department never understood how this violated my conscience and frankly didn’t care.
So why do I mention these things from the shrinking past? Because for some people they are the things of the present. An RE teacher at Alsager School in Cheshire (whose identity is unavailable as Alsager School does not publish staff names on its website or in its prospectus, but who news reports indicate is Welsh) gave detentions to two boys who refused to pray in Allah in Arabic following the Salah ritual motions. They were punished for being “disrespectful to the prophet.”
This was after the teacher had a child produce a bottle of drinking water and began washing her feet with it. The pupils had to wear the relevant headgear. One girl who did participate (though her mother was not happy to learn of it) was told off for not doing it right. Apparently enough of them didn’t do it right, because in addition to the detention given to the two boys, the whole class missed breaktime.
The grandfather of one pupil noted, “But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion, there would be war.” This is a bit of an overreaction. We know from a number of recent incidents that there would only be protests in the streets threatening to kill anyone involved, and a significant number of Christians in third world countries would be attacked and killed by local Muslim mobs. Okay, and maybe a few churches would be burned down. Oh yeah, and there would be the official threats against the United Kingdom and any of its allies from various Islamist governments around the world. And admittedly this would be serious enough to warrant a terrorist attack or two. But honestly, there probably wouldn’t be an actual war.